After School Forest School Blog
13 November 2018

 First half of the autumn term.

We stayed down in the summer camp for the first half of this term and enjoyed our chats, crafts, snacks and end of half term cooking session in the wild part of the woods. Now we have moved camp, up to the top of the woods, for our winter sessions, where music and singing around the fire, warm soup, storytelling, winter crafts and fairy lights in the trees will make this a very different, special time of the year.

You may have noticed…(please read on)

the new circular shelter growing around a stand of four trees, thanks to donations of cash and materials and volunteer labour. It is still work in progress, with materials still to be found to put a top surface on the roof, but we hope you agree that it is a very attractive addition to the site. When the job is completed, we will be announcing the names of every generous individual and organisation that has contributed to this grand project. It will be another dry, cosy area where children can be creative or just hang-out on rainy day sessions. It also provides another example of construction methods in our woodland ‘village’. 
The children have also been constructing cover in the village, using bamboo and scrap material to make teepees. Colourful handprints and block prints in bright colours for a tepee was an inspired addition, devised by the children. They extended the activity further by creating fire pits, gardens, decorations and signs for their teepee. You may also have noticed our ‘Wednesday’ and ‘Thursday’ trees, each has been adopted by one group and decorated by that group with scrap and natural materials. 
We have been looking in more detail at the fungi, ground cover plants and nuts that are growing in the woods in autumn, with Jayne sharing knowledge gained on a recent fungi identification course. Now that the policy is in place to no longer rake up leaves in the woodland area, the woodland floor is starting to build up some leaf litter and we have already seen new, young plants starting to emerge within this protective covering. The dried leaves have also provided lots of autumn fun for the children. We are hoping that soon we will start to see more ferns, ivy, small shrubs and other plants establishing themselves within this ground cover, and the development of an abundance of small insects which will, in turn, attract hedgehogs, birds, newts, frogs and toads to the woodland floor. 
The pond has thankfully filled again after the summer drought. Our thanks to the children for helping to keep a little water in there, just enough to keep the mud moist for amphibians that were hiding safely in the muddy base until nature filled it up again with fresh, chemical-free rain water.
We are looking forward to two or three BA (Hons) Professional Development: Childhood Studies students carrying out their research dissertations on aspects of children’s problem solving, play, learning, creativity and gardening in the outdoor spaces at this school over the next few months, and sharing their findings with us, to help us to improve the site for all of the children who use it, either in school time or in after-school clubs.

Forest Families Group
In our group designed for families with very young children, held on a Thursday morning, we have been busy exploring, familiarising and developing a connection with nature within the rich space offered in the jungle. Each session has a dedicated theme and the blocks have a well-defined beginning and end. We have been using forestry puppets to introduce the safety rules at the start of each session which has proved to be a huge success promoting structure, language and confidence in the space. The end of each session we gather around the fire for a campfire snack and warm drink along with the ‘goodbye’ song to signal the specialness of forest school.
Rich autumnal treasures have made the first term an exceptionally creative and imaginative one, using the acorns, conkers, sticks and leaves available for our activities. Chosen themes of Superworm, The Gruffalo & Stickman have encouraged the group to explore the area, stimulating use of fine and gross motor skills to lift dead wood and logs while bug hunting. The group have also made hedgehog houses, conker caterpillars, tree faces, leaf crowns, and pine cone bats. 
This terms theme is hibernation where we will be looking at the needs of animals during the winter months along with a few weeks of Christmas themes as we head closer to the festive period.

If you would like more info on either of these sessions, please contact Jayne for details.

To contact us: or talk to Jayne on 07984655688

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